Woman seeks $100,000 after ‘life-altering’ injury at Universal Park

A new lawsuit filed against Universal Studios reveals a traumatic and allegedly “life changing” situation unfolding at the Resort.

Universal's Volcanic Bay
Credit: Universal

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Danielle Tolman was a guest visiting Universal’s impressive Volcano Bay water park in August 2018 on her last day of vacation, celebrating with one of the many water slides available at the park.

Volcano Bay joined Universal Studios Resort in Orlando in 2017 and has proven very popular. There are many rides, attractions and experiences that guests can find at the tropical island themed water park

Tolman allegedly lay on her stomach and descended headfirst onto the Punga Racers. On this particular slide, guests use a mat to cross to the end. Unfortunately, Tolman would sustain a serious head injury on this side, an injury that she says was life-changing, as she said in a retrial in Orange Circuit Court.

volcano bay
Credit: Universal

The lawsuit was filed earlier this week against Universal Studios. Tolman is seeking over $100,000 in damages.

“Ms. Tolman was sliding head first on the mat provided when the mat unexpectedly went straight up causing Ms. Tolman to hit her head against the tunnel and then back down and she continued on the As the mat rounded a curve to the right, Ms. Tolman again hit her head,” her lawsuit said.

The injury was so severe that Tolman was completely unable to drive a car or look after his home. Tolman also claims the injury cost his job. Tolman asserted that “Universal actually knew that Punga Racers and the way Universal operated it was unsafe, that there was a high likelihood of injury to Punga Racers riders as a result, and despite this knowledge, Universal decided to keep the slide open to its guests without any security measures”,

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volcano bay
Credit: Universal Orlando

“At a minimum, her reckless decision to keep the slide open when she failed to implement safety measures, in the name of her profits, constitutes gross negligence,” her lawsuit said.

There was no mention of Tolman being injured on Punga Racers in the state’s quarterly theme park injury report. Universal and other major theme parks are expected to self-report visitor injuries that occur on rides if visitors are hospitalized for at least 24 hours. Tolman’s lawsuit says she suffered “significant hospitalization” but does not provide details about her medical care. Her lawsuit says she was injured around 5 p.m. on August 27, 2018, and returned to St. Augustine the same evening, implying that she did not spend an immediate 24 hours in the hospital.

Universal Orlando Resort Volcano Bay
Credit: Universal

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Punga Racers, the waterslide where Tolman was injured, has a troubled history at the water park, with several guests injured while riding. As Florida politics actions, in July 2019, less than a year after Tolman was injured, James Bowen, a tourist visiting from New York, rolled down the same slide and broke his neck. Brown was temporarily paralyzed following his injury.

Bowen filed his own lawsuit against Universal, which was settled in 2020. Bowen’s specific lawsuit revealed multiple depositions with Universal employees as well as company documents that showed there was a pattern of injuries to guests on the waterslide. At least 115 people reportedly said they were injured on the slide.

As a result, the ride’s manufacturer modified the slide and extended the tracks, according to a court filing from Bowen’s trial.

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volcano bay
Credit: Universal

After Bowen’s injury, Universal added a 150-pound weight restriction to the ride, regulations that would surely prevent large numbers of guests from experiencing the attraction. Universal finally reopened the ride in 2020, eliminating the use of mats entirely.

Several guests reported injuries and medical emergencies between April and June of this year at Universal Studios Orlando and its Volcano Bay water park.

At Universal Studios, a 30-year-old woman passed out at TeAwa The Fearless River, which is a “thrilling whitewater race through the heart of the volcano” at its impressive Volcano Bay water park. A 78-year-old woman claimed to have felt ‘elbow pain’ again at the Volcano Bay water park.

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